Scrum Master and Product Owner are two of the most in-demand jobs in technology right now. Both can be rewarded very well and can get positions at some great organizations. And of course some not so great ones. But what are the salaries like compared between the two? This article will explain all of that and answer the question once and for all.
Scrum Master is one of the three core roles in Scrum (now called “accountabilities” in the Scrum Guide, which I think was a bad idea, but that’s another story). The Scrum Master is responsible for the Scrum team’s effectiveness, and for coaching the team and the organization on Scrum.
Scrum Masters do things like:
Scrum Master is a difficult but rewarding job, that requires a combination of soft skills, technical and domain knowledge, and Scrum expertise.
Scrum Masters with a lot of experience often go on to become some sort of coach. Such as an agile coach, DevOps coach, or Enterprise coach. This depends on their experience, skill speciality and domain.
Scrum Master salaries in the USA vary widely from region to region. Different data sources also have some pretty different numbers, which makes things a bit tricky.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a Scrum Master in the US, as of 2021, is $92,917. Which is quite good. The numbers are looking even better if you go to talent.com, however. They have the average Scrum Master salary at $112,125 a year. Which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. If you look at builtin.com, they have a Scrum Master earning on average $103,341.
PayScale says that the salary ranges from $70K (for a junior with 1 year or less experience), to $115K (for an advanced Scrum Master with 20+ years experience). Talent.com has the range going from $95K for an entry level job to a high-range end of $146K per year.
A Product Owner is one of the other roles (or accountabilities) in the Scrum framework. A Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of a product. The main ways they do this are by:
It is a tough but high-profile job that requires a strong customer focus, creative thinking / problem solving, and plenty of stakeholder management. Good Product Owners can often go on to land high-profile and senior roles in an organization.
Again, there are some different numbers for a Product Owner salary, depending on who you ask.
According to builtin.com, the average product owner salary is $106,221. There is a big range here, going from $55K all the way up to $250K (!). If you go to indeed.com, they will show you an average yearly paycheck of $102,039, very similar to the builtin.com number. Talent.com also has a very similar number, of $105,197, with a range of $87K to $140K.
These roles have similar numbers and as you can see they are high paying jobs. If we take the average of all of our different data sources, we get the following numbers for US salaries in 2021:
Scrum Master: $102,561
Product Owner: $104,485
You can see that Product Owner is slightly higher. However, the difference is so small, and the range of possible numbers so wide, that I wouldn’t take that difference too seriously. Both are very rewarding and very well rewarded roles. So I would choose a role based more on what you feel fits your personality, skills and long-term career goals.
In summary, Product Owner has a higher average starting salary, but by a very small amount. So feel free to go with either role based on what you want to be. Do you agree or have you had different experiences? Please let me know in the comments!